Dining options at Reagan National Airport (DCA) are plentiful, and go well beyond fast-food. Look for even more restaurants soon, including a Provençal eatery from chef Robert Wiedmaier; a Southern spot by The Chew’s Carla Hall; a branch of Cava Grill; the Bracket Room’s upscale sports-bar concept, and more. We’ll update the guide accordingly.
Not everyone is comfortable relaxing over a meal until they’ve braved security lines. Most of these restaurants offer “Takeout for Takeoff” options that can be packed in easy-carry containers.
Legal Sea Foods (near B/C Terminal)
We’d be happy to arrive early for a pre-flight lobster roll and glass of wine at Legal, which is probably the best pre-security dining option. The Boston-based chain is reliably fresh; go for crab cakes in any form, chowder, oysters (raw or fried), and that lobster roll. The wine list and draft beers are solid, and the bar can make a good martini.
Matsutake Sushi (near B/C Terminal)
Airport sushi doesn’t sound appealing, but don’t be fooled—Matsutake’s fresh, cut-to-order sushi, sashimi, and rolls are better than certain options we’ve tried around town. Go simple with tuna or eel rolls, a bowl of udon noodle soup, or splurge on a sashimi platter served with fresh shiso leaf and Japanese pickles. The latter even makes a pretty package to-go.
Ben’s Chili Bowl (near B/C Terminal)
Leaving DC and still haven’t tried the iconic chili half-smoke? Ben’s is the place. The airport spinoff of the legendary U Street original isn’t the all-around best dining option, but it can satisfy a craving for pre-flight chili-cheese fries.
This is the best terminal for eating right now. You’ve got a range of options: Five Guys for a greasy burger fix; California Tortilla (hello, breakfast burritos); and American Tap Room for a more leisurely, beer-filled meal.*
Our top pick: the recently-opened &pizza. Guests can customize their own pies with a variety of crusts (including gluten-free), sauces, cheeses, and toppings, which go beyond sausage—think falafel crumbles, runny eggs, or dry-aged pepperoni.
The options aren’t as bountiful in B/C, but you still have a few decent chains (Fuddruckers burgers, Famous Famiglia pizza). We’d make a beeline for local sandwich joint Taylor Gourmet. The Philly-style hoagies can be ordered with eggs, spicy capicola ham, and arugula at breakfast; lunch brings more variety, from Italian cold cuts to crispy chicken cutlets and fresh-roasted turkey.
Morning travelers can hit Starbucks, but other than that, pickings are slim (unless you want McNuggets, or a burger at a cheesy politically-themed grill). Better stop pre-security for takeout.
While other terminals offer local food options, the closest you’ll get in A is the District Bar. Once chef Carla Hall opens Page, a sit-down southern eatery, the dining landscape will be much brighter. For now, grab-and-go turkey wraps and fresh fruit from Cibo Wall Market are a solid–if bland–bet.
*This post has been updated from an earlier version.